Why this site is built on ExpressionEngine

​It may seem odd for a “Drupal developer” to build a personal site on something other than Drupal, there are some very good reasons behind it though, and besides, although Drupal is my main tool now I have a long history of other languages and frameworks.

Introduction

There is a well known English saying with many variations that “The cobbler’s children have no shoes” often we neglect the things closest to ourselves and often web developers (sometimes even digital agencies) have unexpectedly poor websites, there is always some paid work to do instead or some exciting new technology to play with.

I have blogs in other places but wanted to make a site that would ultimately be more about me, particularly a site that would eventually render a LinkedIn profile redundant. I am happy for the site to develop organically every now and again I just make it a little better, and fill in more of the picture.

Spreading the learning

I got sucked into a project I wasn’t directly involved with, which entailed ‘saving’ an ExpressionEngine based site that had been commissioned from elsewhere. I quickly had to get up to speed with the ExpressionEngine landscape and find a way to start improving the bad architecture of that site. Doing more work in ExpressionEngine on my own site starting from a blank canvas has helped the rapid learning experience. I can play around with modules, and best practice somewhere relatively safe.

Apart from the learning benefits I need to constantly remind myself that I have always been a Developer rather than just a “Drupal Developer”.

Focusing on front-end again

I have periods where I have to catch up with front-end developments, particularly after spending a lot of time managing the back-end and architecture of projects. Change is a given, I remember being at the vanguard of ‘semantic web’ (at one point it wasn’t obvious that headings must be H tags and not just styled text), the early days of ‘not using tables for layout’ (we had to wait for CSS to mature enough for this).

Now I want to play with Bootstrap 3, Foundation, not using JQuery (the new JQuery it seems). My CMS of choice (Drupal) is still pretty poor for theming, you tend to have to override or replace lots of things and work from the middle or back-end out towards the front, either that or it is more suitable to sub-theme a base theme that has done some of the hard work for you. It is far too difficult to just start with a bunch of HTML, CSS and JS and then work back inwards.

ExpressionEngine is a CMS that does allow you to easily start with templates and work the dynamic CMS parts in iteratively.

The goals for this site

Built upon Bootstrap 3, lean valid HTML, highly accessible, using good ExpressionEngine working practices.

All this to be developed iteratively whilst building up data and writings that demonstrate who I am.

Better than ExpressionEngine?

There are other frameworks I could have used, ExpressionEngine was a good choice as I use it at work right now (early 2014), the downside is the licence fee (I can’t use it for anything that may become commercial and the free core version has missing bits).

I have started using Silverstripe for another project and it looks very good so far. I will also be using Symfony CMS for a personal project. For an example of why you might want to use a static site generator (I may try that one day) instead of Drupal this post about switching to Jekyl raises some good points.

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